Pakistan Peoples Party was also under the US scanner.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: New data leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals that the US government sanctioned the controversial domestic intelligence agency to spy on six non-US political parties, one of which is India’s BJP.
The news, revealed in a report by The Washington Post on Tuesday, could strike a huge blow to Indo-US ties, which are supposed to be on the up-and-up as both countries try to move past the difficulties of recent months and forge stronger economic ties under India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
A fresh row between the two nations is the last thing the US and India need, just as the dust settles on the Khobragade row, and in light of ongoing bad blood regarding the US continually downgrading crucial Indian economic sectors. While it was revealed long ago that the US was spying on several foreign governments, including India’s, the news that they were spying on the BJP specifically is what has raised the alarm.
The news could also cast a pall over Modi’s upcoming September visit to Washington, DC, where he is set to meet President Barack Obama for the first time since taking office. Modi is the leader of the BJP, which dominated India’s most recent election to take an overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary government.
In addition to the BJP, the US government authorized the NSA to spy on the Amal Party of Lebanon, the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator Party of Venezuela, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian National Salvation Front, and the Pakistan Peoples Party.
“These are the entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence,” says the NSA documents, according to the Post report. Four countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK – have treaties with the US preventing them from being spied on.
The BJP are said to be treating the report that the NSA is spying on them as something “serious,” according to the Press Trust of India, and are in the process of cross-checking the facts to say if there is any validity to these claims. If the allegations do turn out to be true, the BJP has not divulged what action they may take.
There has been no change to Modi’s plan to visit the White House on September 20, and it’s difficult to say if he really would change those plans if more incriminating evidence about the NSA’s spy plans comes to light.